Motorcycle Racing

F1 owner Liberty Media takes over MotoGP in $4bn deal with Dorna

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The American entertainment company, which has owned the rights to Formula 1 since 2016, will take over Dorna, which has owned MotoGP since 1992 and also controls WSBK and the MotoE World Cup, in a deal valued at €4.2 billion.

Liberty will take 86% of the shares of the Spanish company, with the remaining 14% remaining with MotoGP management.

Previously, 40% owned by Bridgepoint – the Canadian fund that acquired its stake in 2006 from CVC Capital Partners – and 38% by the Canadian pension fund (CPPIB). The remaining 22% was divided between various Dorna executives, with Carmelo Ezpeleta (10%), the CEO, as the leading figure.

The confirmation of the deal has taken longer than both parties would have wanted, given that they had been in agreement on the terms for some time. In fact, the initial plan was to announce the move even before the opening round of the MotoGP season in early March. The deal is expected to be officially completed by the end of 2024.

However, the possible intervention of the European Commission’s body that regulates the competition market led the American side to put the brakes on the agreement.

It remains to be seen how the European Commission will react once it has analysed the case.

In 2006, CVC wanted control of both F1 and MotoGP, but the European antitrust authorities forced the Luxembourg fund to get rid of its interests in MotoGP in order to finalise its purchase of F1, as the European body felt one company owning both series would not be good for competition within the European Union.

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

In 2022, the last year with a trace in the Companies Register, Dorna Sports generated a turnover of €474.8 million, which was 33% more than the previous year (2021), which left a loss of €7.8m, as a result of the echoes of the pandemic.

Also in 2022, the Madrid-based company refinanced its debt to €975m in order to increase its liquidity, a move which, at the same time, allowed it to distribute dividends of €390m to its shareholders.

For Dorna, Liberty’s was always the preferred route but not the only one. Qatar Sports Investments, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, and TKO, the media and entertainment conglomerate that, among other things, owns the rights to the UFC fighting championship, were also in the running.

Autosport understands that the alternative offered by Liberty is the one that offers the most guarantees to ensure as organic a…

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